Public engagement in conservation priorities for Maine's freshwater lakes

Authors: Firooza Pavri*, University Of Southern Maine
Topics: Natural Resources, Water Resources and Hydrology, Environment
Keywords: citizen science, conservation, freshwater resources
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Hoover, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Freshwater resources provide vital societal and ecosystem services and their sustainable management necessitate novel approaches to understanding the complex factors that influence their well-being. In this study, we consider the role of citizen scientists and lake residents in gathering data on water quality and watershed indicators, and assess their stewardship activities vis-à-vis lake conservation and management. Surveying residents and lake association members across thirty lakes in Maine, we build a profile of lake stewards and citizen scientists who interface with state-level conservation managers and scientists to provide critical information on lake health indicators. The lakes for our study were selected based on a continuum of citizen involvement (level of activity of lake residents, low to high) and trophic status (oligotrophic to eutrophic). The survey instrument collected demographic information as well as data on the types of activities conducted by lake association residents and citizen scientists and their rationale for engaging in this work. Open-ended questions provided in-depth data on stakeholder knowledge and use of Maine lakes, and insights about the environmental and stewardship issues related to lakes based on their first-hand experiences. The results of this work allow us to evaluate the participation and engagement of local residents and citizen scientists in lake and conservation management. Insights from the study enable us to comment on the factors that influence the long-term participation and involvement of the public in conservation activities.

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